Magnum P.I. is an American crime drama series that premiered on CBS on December 11, 1980, and registered an 8-year-long successful run. The show starred Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a Hawaii-based private detective. During the first five years of the show, Magnum P.I. maintained a spot in the top 20 U.S. television programs. The things that worked in favor of Magnum P.I. were the humor, dramatic action, and Tom Selleck, who for the first time in the history of American television, made the quintessential action hero relatable for the public. In this video, we tell you some fun facts about Magnum, P.I. that we bet you didn’t know.
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Tom Selleck Had to Give up on the Role of Indiana Jones for
The production on Raiders of the Lost Ark began in the late 70s and Tom Selleck, who played Thoman Magnum on Magnum P.I was approached to play the daring Indiana Jones. George Lucas was quite impressed by Selleck’s audition. Unfortunately, Tom Selleck had by then agreed to take up the role of Magnum on the CBS show. Thus, he was under contractual agreement and had to decline the offer to play Indiana Jones. Interestingly, a few days after Selleck declined the offer, a writer’s strike began, which postponed the filming of the first season of Magnum, P.I. Well, the role of destiny can never be negated – it seems Harrison Ford was destined to play Indiana Jones.
A Backdoor Pilot
Magnum P.I.’s producers sought to launch Erin Gray in a new series; thus, they had an episode in the first season of Magnum P.I. as a backdoor pilot for an action series. Gray played the role of J. ‘Digger’ Doyle, a security expert. In the early 1980s, Gray was a familiar face across the U.S. from her supermodel stint and roles in Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons. But Magnum P.I.’s viewers didn’t take to her immediately, and as a result, Gray didn’t get the action show or a repeat appearance on Magnum P.I.
The Show’s Theme Song Was a Hit
The Magnum P.I. theme song was created by Mike Post and reached the 25th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1982, a rare feat for a television theme song. Mike Post is a multi-Grammy and Emmy-winning music composer who has also created opening themes for shows like the Quantum Leap, The Rockford Files, and The Greatest American Hero. However, to this day, Post’s most famous work remains the Law & Order theme song.
Not many people know that the Magnum, P.I theme song that reached the charts and that we remember was not the original choice for the show’s introduction theme. The pilot, as well as many episodes of the first season, used a different song as the theme song. This song, created by Ian Freebrain-Smith, was a mid-tempo jazzy piece and was used in the first nine episodes of season one.
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One of the Highest Rated T.V. Finales of All Time
The actual season finale, which was season 8 episode 13 ‘Resolutions,’ is one of the highest-rated finales on network T.V. CBS’s Magnum P.I. is the fifth most-watched season finales of all time, with CBS’s M*A*S*H, NBC’s Cheers, NBC’s Seinfeld, and NBC’s Friends in the first four positions. The episode, which aired on May 1, 1988, grossed over 50.7 million views.
There Were Two Series Finales
Magnum P.I. was slated to be discontinued by the seventh season. The producers even gave viewers a finale with Magnum passing away. In the episode titled ‘Limbo,’ which is the finale for season 7, Magnum is critical from a bullet wound. In those final moments, he visits his friends unseen and unheard, making peace with them and, ultimately, walks into heaven. So one can see why it was extremely surprising for the cast, crew, and audiences to hear of a season 8.
The eighth season was shorter than the rest, with only 13 episodes (the other seasons had around 18-23 episodes). The first episode starts with Magnum in a coma to make it seem like he dreamt of passing over, but had not in reality. The final episode of season 8 had nothing as drastic; on the contrary, Magnum contemplates returning to the navy and learns that his daughter Lily is alive. The producers left a few plot strings for a possible reunion, which never happened.
Magnum P.I. Drew Greatly from Hawaii Five-O
Magnum P.I. premiered on CBS on December 11, 1980. The same year, Hawaii Five-0 said goodbye to the network’s audiences after a 12-year-long successful run. There is a strong connection between Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. Both the shows were set in the same universe and therefore, Thomas Magnum, Magnum P.I.’s lead private investigator would often mention Steve McGarrett, the head of a special task force and the protagonist of Hawaii Five-O. In fact, the makers of Magnum P.I. requested Jack Lord who played Detective Steve McGarrett, to make a cameo on Magnum P.I. Unfortunately, Lord declined the offer.
The connection between the two shows does not end here. Since CBS did not want Hawaii Five-O’s production facilities to go to waste, the network executives asked the makers of Magnum P.I. to shoot many of the indoor scenes of the show on the soundstage created for Magnum P.I.
Orson Welles Lent His Voice to Robin Masters
Orson Welles was an American actor, writer, producer, and director. Many consider him to be one of the best filmmakers of all time. On Magnum P.I., Orson Welles served as the voice of Robin Masters, the author who gives his guesthouse to Magnum in return for his services. Though Masters is heard often during the show, he never appears fully — one can only see his back and his different body parts. While Orson Welles appeared on the show as the voice of Robert Masters, Bruce Atkinson appeared in those scenes where Master’s silhouette was needed. The makers of the show had extended out a contract to Orson Welles, designating him as the voice of Robin Masters for as long as the show remained on the air. Unfortunately, the actor passed away in 1985, which ended his association with the show.
Bellisario Wanted to Combine Magnum P.I. and Quantum Leap but the Crossover Never Happened
Donald P. Bellisario is an American producer and screenwriter credited with creating several super-popular shows, including Magnum P.I., Airwolf, Quantum Leap, and NCIS. However, his idea to combine two of his super-successful series — Magnum P.I. and Quantum Leap — turned out to be a bigger hassle than even he had imagined.
Quantum Leap was on television between 1989 and 1993. However, after the fourth season, the rating of the show began to decline. Thus, to bag the fifth season, Bellisario came up with the idea of making Dr. Sam Beckett jump into the body of Thomas Magnum. However, the idea did not work out and Selleck was never approached for the show. Moreover, by this time, Magnum P.I. had gone off the air and Selleck had moved on to new projects. The makers of the show tried to make act Bakula as Thomas Magnum but the whole idea seemed bizarre and was, therefore, ultimately dropped.
A Crossover with Murder, She Wrote Happened Though
However, a crossover between Magnum P.I. and Murder, She Wrote? did take place in the episode Novel Connection of season 7 of Magnum P.I. and episode Magnum on Ice of Murder, She Wrote. In this episode, Magnum is arrested for murder, and Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote? appears to be the person who can clear Magnum’s name.
Other than Murder, She Wrote, the show also crossed over with Simon & Simon. In this crossover episode, the team of three works together to recover a Hawaiin artifact that apparently had a death curse attached to it.
There Was Almost a Magnum Movie
Rumors of a Magnum P.I. film began doing the round after the show ended in 1988 and in the 1990s, it seemed very possible too. The famed novelist Tom Clancy was a huge fan of the show and wanted to work on the story for a movie, but nothing materialized. Several years later, Selleck mentioned that he and Clancy had pitched the idea to Universal, and the studio did seem interested. So it was a real possibility at one point, but the three-time change in Universal’s own kind of disrupted plans.
The Show Was Iconic Enough for a Museum
Those who have never watched Magnum P.I. won’t understand the hype behind this epic show. But when you consider that the Hawaiian shirt, Detroit Tigers hat, and the insignia ring that Selleck wore during the series are preserved as T.V. relics at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, you get a fair idea about how big a deal Thomas Magnum was back in the days. When the show ended, these items were donated to the museum, where they joined the ranks of the mask from Lone Ranger and a puppet in the likeness of Kermit the Frog.
CBS announced a pilot for a reboot of Magnum P.I. in October 2017, and Jay Hernandez was cast to play the younger Magnum in February 2018. The first episode was aired on September 24, 2018, on CBS, and featured Larry Manetti (as Nicky), Perdita Weeks (as Juliet Higgins), and Zachary Knighton (as Rick Wright), among the other core cast members. The show received mixed reviews – some called it mediocre, while others loved the light-hearted concept. Almost all of the older audiences were initially shocked by the idea of a female Higgins, but it seemed to mostly grow on them eventually. Many did say though that the character had changed a lot from the original Higgins, irrespective of the gender.
The American crime drama Magnum P.I. is a classic to binge-watch even today. Those who are too young and didn’t get to enjoy this on T.V. back then can always stream it for a good laugh (that is, of course, if you don’t mind the 80s video quality). Those who did watch the show back in the 80s need no reminder of the show, especially the female audiences who enjoyed watching Selleck so much, they went on to follow all other shows that he appeared in!
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